- None of the bodies bear any sign of struggle. Some members of the family are believed to have helped others hang themselves, according to notes that filled two big notebooks found by the police.
- The members were found hanging from a mesh in their ceiling in the hallway, all close together. Details in the notebooks match how they were found – faces wrapped almost entirely, ears plugged with cotton, mouths taped and hands tied behind the back. There were five stools, probably shared by the 10 members.
- In the notes found in diaries, it was written that “everyone will tie their own hands and when the kriya (ritual) is done then everyone will help each other untie their hands. This indicates that most of the family may have been led to believe they would be alive after the ritual.
- Narayani Devi, described in the diary as “bebbe”, was on the floor. The police suspect someone took off her noose and arranged her after she died.
- At night, the family ordered 20 rotis, which were delivered around 10.40 pm. The notes had said that food had to be ordered for the ritual and Narayani Devi would feed everyone rotis.
- It has emerged that Lalit Chundawa, 45, had been hallucinating about his father Gopaldas, who had died 10 years ago.
- He allegedly believed his father wanted to lead the family to salvation and had been writing down “instructions” since 2015.
- Those who died were Narayan Devi’s sons Lalit and Bhavnesh, their families and children including two 15-year-old boys; Narayan Devi’s daughter and granddaughter Priyanka, 33, who had been engaged on June 17 and was to marry later this year.
- One of the entries read: “I will come tomorrow or day after. If I don’t then I will come later. Don’t worry about Lalit, when I come he becomes tense.”
- The police have denied the role of any “godman” in the suicides, as some reports suggested, because of the fact that the main door was open.
Bodies of eleven members of the Bhatia family were found at a house in Delhi’s Burari area early on Sunday morning. Ten bodies were found hanging and blindfolded, while another, the eldest family member Narayani Bhatia, 77, was found strangled in a separate room. The rest, including two 15-year-old boys, allegedly used chunnis (scarves) with religious motifs and cables to hang themselves. They were gagged and blindfolded, with hands tied. Cotton buds were found stuffed in their ears. The only one found alive in the house was the family dog, Jacky, who had been sent to the terrace .
Neighbours said they didn’t hear the dog bark.
The post-mortem examination of six of the 11 dead revealed no signs of struggle, a senior police officer has disclosed.
The post-mortem included that of two children, and police have found no indication of strangulation or scuffle.
Police suspect that the deaths were part of a suicide pact, carried out in accordance with a religious practice, as handwritten notes found on the spot indicated.
Who were the Bhatias?
The Bhatia family ran a grocery shop and plywood business out of their double-storey home in Sant Nagar, in north Delhi’s Burari’s area. “Their shop would open by 6 am every morning but when it did not till 7.30 am today, a neighbour went to check and later informed the police after finding most of them hanging. The Bhatias lived on the first floor of house number 137/5/2 in lane number 2 of Sant Nagar. Narayani had two sons, Bhavnesh (50) and Lalit (45), who lived in the house with their respective wives, Savita (48) and Teena (42). Bhavnesh had three children Nitu (25), Monu (23) and Dhruv (15), while Lalit had a 15-year-old son, Shivam. Narayani’s elder daughter, Pratibha (57) also lived in the house with her daughter, Priyanka (33) after her husband died a few years ago. All of them were found dead.
What are the various theories?
Though no suicide note has been recovered yet, prima facie, the police suspects the Bhatia family committed suicide. But the police is also investigating the case with other possible angles of homicide. It is also checking the CCTV footage and not ruling out anything. This means it could also be a case of murders.
A diary found in the house had detailed instructions for “mass salvation”, including how hangings should be conducted. The Bhatias seemed to have followed the instructions, some of which may have been written months ago. They conducted a “havan” hours before the suicides.
The Bhatia family had been writing down the steps to attain “mass salvation”, which will now serve as clues for police to unravel the mystery.
Some of the notes stated that “one will not die” but attain something “great”, the officer said.
Despite entries in the diary indicating a suicide for “mass salvation”, cops are still facing many unanswered questions into the deaths of 11 members of Narayani Devi’s family.
1. The biggest question is how no relative got a hint of such spiritual practices going on in the house. Even Devi’s daughter, Sujata Nagpal, who lives in Panipat, was clueless about the family’s drive to attain salvation. Her brother, Lalit, had last called her at 11 pm on Saturday, but told her nothing about the suicide pact.
4. With a murder case being registered over the suspicion of Narayani Devi’s death due to strangulation, it is yet to be found who among the family members killed her before taking his or her life.